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Ecology of Food and Nutrition


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Traditional Food System Provides Dietary Quality for the Awajn in the Peruvian Amazon
M. L. Roche ab; H. M. Creed-Kanashiro c; I. Tuesta d; H. V. Kuhnlein ab a Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment (CINE) McGill University, Montreal, Canada b School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University, Montreal, Canada c Instituto de Investigacin Nutricional (IIN), Lima, Peru d Organizacin de Desarrollo de las Comunidades Fronterizas del Cenepa, (ODECOFROC), Rio Cenepa, Amazonas, Peru

Online Publication Date: 01 September 2007 To cite this Article: Roche, M. L., Creed-Kanashiro, H. M., Tuesta, I. and Kuhnlein, H. V. (2007) 'Traditional Food System Provides Dietary Quality for the Awajn in the Peruvian Amazon', Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 46:5, 377 - 399 To link to this article: DOI: 10.1080/03670240701486651 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03670240701486651

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Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 46: 377399, 2007 Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0367-0244 print / 1543-5237 online DOI: 10.1080/03670240701486651

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1543-5237 0367-0244 GEFN Ecology of Food and Nutrition Nutrition, Vol. 46, No. 5-6, June 2007: pp. 136

TRADITIONAL FOOD SYSTEM PROVIDES DIETARY QUALITY FOR THE AWAJN IN THE PERUVIAN AMAZON

Awajn M. L. Roche Traditional ET AL. Food System

M. L. ROCHE Centre for Indigenous Peoples Nutrition and Environment (CINE) McGill University, Montreal, Canada and School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University, Montreal, Canada H. M. CREED-KANASHIRO Instituto de Investigacin Nutricional (IIN), Lima, Peru I. TUESTA Organizacin de Desarrollo de las Comunidades Fronterizas del Cenepa, (ODECOFROC), Rio Cenepa, Amazonas, Peru H. V. KUHNLEIN Centre for Indigenous Peoples Nutrition and Environment (CINE) McGill University, Montreal, Canada and School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

*Also called the Aguaruna - Awajn is the preferred identity for this group of Indigenous People. Address correspondence to H. V. Kuhnlein, PhD, RD, Professor of Nutrition, Centre for Indigenous Peoples Nutrition and Environment (CINE), McGill University, Macdonald Campus, 21,111 Lakeshore Rd., Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, H9X3V9, Canada. E-mail: harriet.kuhnlein@mcgill.ca and roche.marion@gmail.com 377

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M. L. ROCHE ET AL. Awajn* Indigenous People live along the Rio Cenepa in the Peruvian Amazon. This article describes the Awajn traditional food system (TFS) and defines its nutritional importance. Nutritional status of women and young children were assessed using anthropometry. Dietary intakes were recorded using repeat 24-hour recalls. Anthropometry suggested a healthy population, although the Awajn had short stature. They purchased <1% of their food. Group dietary assessments indicated adequate intakes of energy, protein, fat, iron, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin A. The Awajn TFS provides good nutrition and should be promoted and protected. KEYWORDS Indigenous Peoples, traditional food, indigenous food, Amazon, Awajn, Aguaruna

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INTRODUCTION In the absence of external influences, subsistence lifestyle and traditional food systems (TFS) have generally supported healthful diets for Indigenous Peoples (FAO/WHO, 2002). A TFS of Indigenous People is defined as being comprised of all acceptable foods provided by the natural resources of a particular cultural group (Kuhnlein and Receveur, 1996). A world wide nutrition transition is occurring as more and more people are adopting a Western diet characterized by consuming more animal foods, eating a diet of greater overall energy content, more fat, and decreased fiber (Popkin, 2001). For Indigenous Peoples who have traditionally consumed local foods the incorporation of low nutrientdense market food (MF) can lead to a significant decrease in diet quality, if local traditional food (TF) is replaced (Kuhnlein et al., 2004). In addition to supporting health, TFS hold great cultural value for Indigenous Peoples (Kuhnlein et al., 2002). To promote and protect the TFS of Indigenous Peoples, the local resources must be understood. There is need to document this biodiversity and understand its relationship to the health of communities (Johns and Sthapit, 2004). The Awajn live in the remote hills of the northwestern Amazon of Peru subsiding on a cassava-based diet, complemented by hunting, gathering and fishing. In 1977, Berlin and Markell examined the household consumption patterns and nutritional status of the Awajn in an anthropological study; however, specific intakes of women and children have not been reported. Defining the Awajn TFS, nutritional status and dietary diversity will foster an understanding of the local resources and

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the relationship to health within communities and contribute to defining the relationship between Indigenous Peoples health and traditional food globally.

METHODS Study Communities The study took place in six remote communities along the lower Cenepa River in the Amazonas District of Peru, South America. It was estimated that approximately 38,500 Awajn live in Peru and 8,000 along the Rio Cenepa. The Awajn communities in the study included Cocoaushi [Annex of Wawaim], (638 people, 101 families), Mamayaque (350 people, 65 families), Nuevo Tutino (110 people, 22 families), Tuutin (350 people, 61 families), Pagki (60 people, 10 families) and Nuevo Kanam (Annex of Tuutin) (217 people, 47 families) (SICNA, 1999) (Figure 1). The study took place in the months of April and May 2004. In the Awajn culture the seasons are referenced by both animal and plant food sources, with the hunt of animals coming under the domain of mens roles and the harvest of plants corresponding to the responsibilities of women. The months of April and May are known as Sakamtn, meaning time when the wild animals are thin and fishing is very difficult. In terms of vegetation these same months are defined as Kutsatn, which is known as the season of heavy rains, and defined by the harvest of the sachapapa (yam) (Galdo Pagaraza et al., undated). Food availability was fairly consistent throughout the study season. Study Overview A total of 49 women were included in the study. Of these women 36 had at least one child between the ages of 3 and 6 years (the others had infants only). The research with mothers and children was comprised of: (1) repeat 24-hour dietary recalls; (2) anthropometry, and (3) child health reports. When a mother had more than one child between the ages of 3 and 6, one was randomly selected using a coin toss. All interviews were conducted in Spanish with translation to Awajn (Awajn language). Food frequency questionnaires, infant history and feeding practices, key informant interviews and qualitative interviews were also recorded and will be reported separately.

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PERU

Nuevo Kanam

Tuutin

Mamayaqu
Pagki Nuevo Tutino Cocoaushi (Wawaim)

Figure 1. Map of the Rio Cenepa and Awajn study communities.

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Sample Recruitment
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Inclusion in the sample required a woman to be (1) self-identified as Awajn and (2) a mother of at least one child under the age of six. Women who had lived outside of the Cenepa region for more than four months consecutively were excluded. All women meeting the entry criteria from the lower Cenepa communities of Cocoaushi (Annex of Wawaim), Mamayaque, Nuevo Tutino, Tuutin, Pagki and Nuevo Kanam (Annex of Tuutin) were invited verbally to participate in the study by local nutrition promoters and community leaders. Transportation by boat was provided to community centers for those individuals within the community limits living on the other side of the river. Additionally, interviewers walked to more remote houses up to a distance of one hour travel time. Reasons for refusal included lack of time due to subsistence practices, skepticism of study and need to care for an ill family member. Ethics This study was based on the principles of Participatory Health Research following the planning and management framework specific to Indigenous Peoples (Sims and Kuhnlein, 2003). Informed consent was obtained on three levels: (1) a written research agreement with the Organizacin de Desarrollo de las Comunidades Fronterizas de Cenepa (ODECOFROC); (2) informed written consent and research agreement with the four communities and two annexes included; and (3) individual oral consent or parental consent for all subjects. Ethics approval was given by the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Committee on Human Research Ethics Review Board at McGill University as well as from the Institutional Ethics Board for the IIN, in Lima, Peru. Dietary Recalls A total of two standardized 24-hour dietary recalls was obtained from 49 mothers and 34 children with a separation of 34 days between repeat recalls (Basiotis et al., 1987). During the interview, several cassava, sachapapa (yam / Dioscorea trifida) (Berlin and Markell, 1977), bananas and plantains with known weights were used as references, as has been shown to improve the quality of dietary recalls (Cypel et al., 1997). Cups, plates and bowls, and pinig (bowl for drinking) found in the communities

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were used as references for quantifying food consumption. Women were also asked to bring bowls and plates to the second interview for measurement if it was not identical to the references. A food balance scale with precision of 1 g was also used during the interviews, and women and community members were asked to bring specific local food items to help establish reference weights. Where possible five to ten of each fruit or vegetable or invertebrate was weighed and averaged to obtain crude and edible weights. For wild animals the different cuts and body parts were measured with indication as to portion size for adults and children by a group of women in the community. In cases of less available foods the local reference weights were established after the recalls. For each food item the preparation method was recorded as well as the individual in charge of preparation and source of the food. Community focus groups helped establish local portion sizes and preparation methods. Mothers reported foods consumed for themselves and for their children. To enhance recall ability, for mothers and children the daily activities such as school attendance for children and going to the chacra (fields) for both women and children were recorded and used as prompts to help define which foods were consumed. Dietary recall data were reviewed and cleaned, and food codes were added corresponding to the IIN (Instituto de Investigacion Nutricional) food composition table of Peruvian foods (IIN, 2001). Eleven food items were added from other tables using the international literature for food composition (USDA, 2004, Wu Leung et al., 1972, Wu Leung and Flores, 1961, and Herrera et al., undated). For food items without documented nutrient content, estimations were done for the nutrient content of food items using available genus and species information as well as local descriptions of plants and animals to substitute for similar food items: zinc-36 foods, fiber-2 foods, calcium-3 foods, vitamin C-8 foods, vitamin A-24 foods and iron-3 foods. Daily intake for each nutrient for each individual was obtained by averaging the repeat 24-hour recalls on non consecutive days. Mean individual intakes were then used to find a mean intake for the groups: mothers, lactating mothers, children 3 to 4 years, and children 4 to 6 years. Group means, medians, and quartiles were compared to the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) as standards (EAREstimated Average Requirement, AIAdequate Intake, AMDRAverage Macronutrient Distribution Range) for macronutrients, vitamins and minerals (IOM, 2000b, IOM 2000c, IOM 1997, IOM 2002).

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Energy and protein intakes are compared with the suggested requirements from the WHO (1985) using an activity level assumed to be moderately active. This activity level was determined among the Tatuyo people who also live in the Northwestern Amazon, and practice swidden horticulture (Dufour, 1984). For the 4 to 6 year olds in our study, the suggested WHO energy and protein requirements of kcal/kg body weight, and protein/kg body weight for boys 5 to 7 were multiplied by the mean Awajn weight for this group. Children under 4 in our study were compared to the kcal and g protein/kg body weight requirements for boys age 35, multiplied by the mean Awajn weight (WHO, 1985). Anthropometry For children ages 3 to 6, height, weight and mid-upper arm circumference values were obtained. The anthropometric measurements for adult women included height, sitting height, weight and mid-upper arm circumference. Sex and age of children as well as the mothers age, were reported by the mother. Anthropometry was not available for two children. Height was measured using a vertical measuring board with an inserted metric ruler, with a horizontal headboard. Given the uneven nature of the mud floors in some of the communities, a level was used to find a flat surface to minimize error in measurement. Subjects were barefoot and in light clothing with hair ties removed. The height was recorded with a precision of 0.1cm (WHO, 1995). Sitting height was performed with the use of a measuring stick and level with two observers. The woman was asked to sit on a table with legs hanging over the edge and hands placed upon her thighs. The woman was positioned as erect as possible with pressure applied simultaneously on the lumbar region and sternum, followed by pressure on the mastoid process. The line of vision was parallel to the ground. The level was placed on the top most point of the head and a measuring stick was used to measure the distance between this point and the table. One observer maintained the posture and the level, while the other performed the measurement with the measuring stick. This is an adaptation to a sitting board given the remote setting, low roofs and uneven mud floors. The sitting height was recorded with a precision of 0.1cm (WHO, 1995). Weight was measured using a level and a digital Salter bathroom scale. A level was used to determine a flat ground given the surface was uneven mud floor. The scale was calibrated using a 5.00 kg weight. Women

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were weighed in undergarments and a skirt and shirt. Reference clothing was measured and an estimated weight of 200g was subtracted from the mothers weight. Children were weighed in light clothing (with the use of reference clothing was estimated to be 100g), a value which was subtracted from the obtained weight. Diapers were not used in the study communities. The weight was recorded with a precision of 100g (WHO, 1995). Mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) was obtained using a graduated, inelastic, flexible measuring tape. The subject was standing erectly with arms hanging freely at sides with palms facing medially. The measuring tape was placed at the midpoint determined to be the distal point of the olecranon process and the lateral point of the acromion. The measuring tape was placed snugly to the skin without compressing the skin. The MUAC was recorded with a precision of 0.1cm (WHO, 1995). Childrens Health Information Thirty-five mothers were asked to recall their childs health history during the past month, from 2 years of age to the present age and the age of 02 years. The information pertained to: vitamin A supplementation; night blindness and recognition of photos of Bitots spots, corneal xerosis, and corneal ulcerations and keratomalacia (Blum et al., 1997); parasites and helminthes and treatment with antihelmintic medication; diarrhea episode frequency and duration; dengue incidence and duration; malaria infection and duration; and incidence and duration of colds, influenza and fever. We used ANOVA to establish if relationships existed with reported health and anthropometry z-scores. Statistical Analysis All statistical analysis was performed using SPSS 11.0 for Windows (SPSS, 2001).

RESULTS Dietary Intake An analysis of repeat 24-hour recalls suggested general dietary adequacy for Awajn women and children. The dietary recall analysis was done for 19 non-lactating women, 23 lactating women, 19 children aged 3 to 4, and 17 children aged 4 to 6 (Table 1 to Table 4).

AWAJN TRADITIONAL FOOD SYSTEM Table 1. Dietary intake of non-lactating mothers from repeat 24-hour recalls (n = 19)
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Nutrient

Median

25th Percentile 2716 32.6 10.1% 9.8 22.7 16.7 8.1% 1.9 6.5 574 51.1% 442 16.7 0.7 7.9 0.4 315 334

75th Percentile 5121 80.2 14.5% 42.0 52.2 44.5 35.9% 12.4 31.2 1078 80.2% 1079 32.9 9.7 18.7 4.2 788 3295

Mean SD

Reference Intake 1900a 35.8a 10- 35%b n/a n/a n/a 20- 35%b n/a n/a n/a 45- 65%b 1000e 8.1c n/a 6.8c n/a 50d 500c

Energy (kcal/day) Total protein (g/day) % Energy from protein Animal protein (g/day) Vegetable protein (g/day) Total fat (g/day) % Energy from fat Animal fat (g/day) Vegetable fat (g/day) Carbohydrates (g/day) % Energy from carbs. Calcium (mg/day) Iron (mg/day) Animal iron (mg/day) Zinc (mg/day) Animal zinc (mg/day) Ascorbic acid (mg/day) Retinol (g RE/ day)
a

3207 64.2 11.5% 18.4 28.0 25.7 12.1% 6.4 12.7 708 71.1% 706 21.4 2.2 12.9 1.4 438 759

3738 1729 62.6 30.8 12.3 3.7 25.6 23.4 37.0 21.9 30.6 20.6 20.6 15.5 9.2 10.1 21.4 19.8 819 404 66.6 16.4 797 465 25.3 14.1 4.8 5.3 15.5 12.9 4.4 6.9 536 321 1904 2206

(WHO, 1985), bAMDRs (IOM, 2002), cEAR (IOM, 2000b), dEAR (IOM, 2000c), and AI (IOM, 1997).

Energy intakes were quite high. Median and 25th percentile energy intakes exceeded the suggested requirements for all groups. There was, however, large standard deviation in daily energy intake between individuals. This may be partially explained by a subsistence strategy of eating produce and game when it was available, as there were essentially no storage or preservation methods in the Awajn food system. This can lead to high variation within an individuals daily intake. However, a limitation of this study is that we were unable to observe or weigh precisely the amount of food consumed by each individual, thus there may have been overestimation of intake through dietary recall in some cases as food is served communally and not on individual plates or children do not eat all they are served. Protein intake seemed adequate for mothers and children, and was above the WHO suggested requirements for each group (median intakes were above the requirements). This may have been appropriate given that much of the protein was from plant sources and not as absorbable as

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Table 2. Dietary intake of lactating mothers from repeat 24-hour recalls (n = 23)
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Nutrient

Median

25th Percentile 2516 34.8 10.2% 12.2 17.8 16.4 11.9% 6.9 5.8 533 64.0% 398 16.2 0.4 6.0 1.0 339 323

75th Percentile 4401 75.3 13.7% 32.4 40.8 47.9 22.7% 24.7 18.2 1051 77.4% 982 29.8 8.6 21.6 14.6 697 1249

Mean SD

Reference Intake 2185a 41.8a 10- 35%b n/a n/a n/a 20- 35%b n/a n/a n/a 45- 65%b 1000e 6.5c n/a 10.4c n/a 100d 900c

Energy (kcal/day) Total protein (g/day) % Energy from protein Animal protein (g/day) Vegetable protein (g/day) Total fat (g/day) % Energy from fat Animal fat (g/day) Vegetable fat (g/day) Carbohydrates (g/day) % Energy from carbs. Calcium (mg/day) Iron (mg/day) Animal iron (mg/day) Zinc (mg/day) Animal zinc (mg/day) Ascorbic acid (mg/day) Retinol (g RE/ day)

3546 49.1 13.0% 16.9 29.5 22.7 16.5% 13.4 9.1 802 69.9% 616 22.2 2.2 10.5 1.7 507 520

3739 1437 56.1 25.1 12.9 3.6 23.0 16.4 33.1 18.7 36.3 32.0 18.2 9.7 15.4 11.3 20.9 28.8 815 324 70.0 11.5 729 373 25.8 16.1 5.5 6.3 15.3 11.0 7.1 9.1 525 227 891 900

a (WHO, 1985), bAMDRs (IOM, 2002), cEAR (IOM, 2000b), dEAR (IOM, 2000c), and AI (IOM, 1997).

milk and egg protein which were used to calculate the requirement (WHO, 1985). The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDRs) for adults are 45 to 65% carbohydrate, 10 to 35% protein and 20 to 35% fat. The median distributions for women and lactating women, respectively, were 71.1% and 69.9% carbohydrate, 12.1% and 13.0% protein, 12.1% and 16.5% fat. Fat intakes were lower than recommended for women and lactating women as a percent and this may be a result of the high overall energy intake coming from plant based dietary staples. Energy distributions of childrens diets from carbohydrate, protein, and fat were compared to the AMDRs (IOM, 2002). Median contributions of carbohydrate were 69.3% and 57.9 % among 3 to 4 years olds and 4 to 6 year olds, respectively. The 4 to 6 year olds were within 45 to 65% suggested distribution, while 3 to 4 year olds were slightly above. For protein the AMDR is 5 to 20% for younger children, which puts the median protein contribution of both Awajn groups of children within

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Table 3. Dietary intake for children age 3 to 4 years from repeat 24-hour recalls (n = 19)
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Nutrient

Median

25th Percentile 1659 26.5 9.1% 4.9 18.4 9.7 12.5% 2.0 7.8 371 53.4% 255 10.7 0.3 5.2 0.2 207 154

75th Percentile 3255 71.0 12.5% 23.5 39.0 31.7 32.3% 13.9 16.3 699 82.6% 808 22.9 4.8 19.4 6.7 372 1655

Mean SD

Reference Intake 1199a 13.7a 5- 20%b n/a n/a n/a 3040%b n/a n/a n/a 45- 65%b 500e 3.0c n/a 2.5c n/a 13d 210c

Energy (kcal/day) Total protein (g/day) % Energy from protein Animal protein (g/day) Vegetable protein (g/day) Total fat (g/day) % Energy from fat Animal fat (g/day) Vegetable fat (g/day) Carbohydrates (g/day) % Energy from carbs. Calcium (mg/day) Iron (mg/day) Animal iron (mg/day) Zinc (mg/day) Animal zinc (mg/day) Ascorbic acid (mg/day) Retinol (g RE/ day)
a

2307 46.4 11.7% 12.6 31.1 18.9 20.5% 6.5 10.3 467 69.3% 464 17.6 0.67 9.0 1.2 297 574

2466 1014 49.0 27.0 11.6 3.7 17.6 18.4 31.4 18.3 24.0 21.0 22.8 14.3 9.3 10.1 14.7 14.2 530 229 68.0 15.5 559 356 17.6 7.9 2.6 2.7 11.7 7.7 3.6 4.5 286 107 1138 1599

(WHO, 1985), bAMDRs (IOM, 2002), cEAR (IOM, 2000b), dEAR (IOM, 2000c), and AI (IOM, 1997).

the appropriate ranges: for the 3 to 4 year olds the median was 11.7%, and for the 4 to 6 year olds the median was 10.1%. The AMDR for fat is 30 to 40% for 1 to 3 year olds, which was above the median of 20.5% fat intake of the 3 to 4 year olds, while the 4 to 6 year olds were at the upper end of the suggested AMDR with a median intake of 35.4%. The AMDR for 4 to 18 years is 25 to 35%. All groups had median calcium intakes below the suggested AI values, however this not necessarily indicates population inadequacy (IOM, 1997). Women had the 25th percentile intakes above the EAR for zinc, while the median zinc intakes were just above the EAR for lactating women (IOM, 2000b). Total iron and zinc intakes at the 25th percentiles of Awajn children were above the EARs. Among women and lactating women the 25th percentile intakes of iron were above the EAR. Overall, this suggested general sufficiency in these minerals in the Awajn diet although intakes from high bioavailable animal sources were low. Vitamin C consumption in all study groups exceeded the EARs (IOM,

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Table 4. Dietary intake for children age > 4 to 6 years from repeat 24-hour recalls (n = 17)
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Nutrient

Median

25th Percentile 2060 36.7 9.3% 5.6 25.4 13.8 13.1% 2.3 9.6 427 52.2% 265 11.4 0.3 5.9 0.2 158 189

75th Percentile 3216 53.0 11.7% 14.7 46.9 51.4 39.6% 11.9 46.0 708 74.2% 717 20.3 2.7 12.0 2.2 491 657

Mean SD

Reference Intake 1377a 15.3a 5- 20%b n/a n/a n/a 25- 35%b n/a n/a n/a 45- 65%b 800e 4.1c n/a 4c n/a 22d 275c

Energy (kcal/day) Total protein (g/day) % Energy from protein Animal protein (g/day) Vegetable protein (g/day) Total fat (g/day) % Energy from fat Animal fat (g/day) Vegetable fat (g/day) Carbohydrates (g/day) % Energy from carbs. Calcium (mg/day) Iron (mg/day) Animal iron (mg/day) Zinc (mg/day) Animal zinc (mg/day) Ascorbic acid (mg/day) Retinol (g RE/ day)

2726 45.8 10.1% 7.8 32.6 26.5 35.4% 5.0 12.7 563 57.9% 362 15.7 0.9 7.2 0.6 247 401

2886 1128 50.3 23.0 10.7 3.0 11.4 9.2 38.9 19.7 35.1 26.8 28.5 14.5 8.0 9.3 27.1 25.4 613 247 62.5 13.8 484 254 17.2 8.4 1.8 1.9 9.3 5.7 1.7 2.5 354 215 601 597

a (WHO, 1985), bAMDRs (IOM, 2002), cEAR (IOM, 2000b), dEAR (IOM, 2000c), and AI (IOM, 1997).

2000c). With the exception of lactating women, mean and median intakes of Vitamin A (measured in retinol equivalents) were at or above the EARs. The mean intake of lactating women was just below the EAR, which gave insufficient reason to assume inadequacy among this group (IOM, 2000b). Preparation of Food The most common food preparation method for the Cenepa Awajn was boiling, which was done for foods such as cassava, plantains, bananas, sachapapa, taro, Mauritian palm fruit (Mauritia flexuosa), peach palm (Bactris gasipaes), palm heart, suri (a larva of the order Coleopterus found in decomposing palm trunks), eggs, and animals. Many fruits and vegetables including bananas, papayas, oranges, Mauritian palm fruit sachamango (Grias peruviana), macambo (Theobroma bicolor) and palm heart were eaten raw. It should also be noted that children and adults enjoyed

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eating raw suri. Chapo and pururuca were prepared drinks made from boiled ripe bananas. If sugar was added it was called pururuca, otherwise the basic water and banana mixture is referred to as chapo. Masato is a premasticated cassava drink. Masato continued to be a preparation with great cultural importance as well as the most time consuming and labour intensive of all preparations. The women prepare this lightly-fermented drink by chewing cassava (occasionally peach palm fruit), spitting it into a vessel and allowing the saliva to mix with the cassava overnight. Water is added the next day and it is served. Preparations called soup included boiled palm heart, animals, suri, eep (general term for green leaves), and/or mushrooms, and referred to an item being served in the water in which it was boiled. Juices were most commonly made by the women working at the school kitchen and included fruit, water and sugar. Patarashka was the process of wrapping items such as mushrooms, suri, snails, eep, and macambo seeds into banana leaves and cooking them on hot coals. Roasting was done by placing food directly on the coals as was done with plantains and sachapapa or by putting the food on a small stick skewer, as for macambo seeds and small birds. Over 91% of mothers foods reported in the 24-hour recalls were prepared by the mother herself, 6.5% were provided from donated foods, 1.3% foods were given by the grandmother or mother-in-law, 0.3% was from a neighbor, and 0.3% was purchased. Children had 79.9% of food prepared by their mothers, 18.0% provided from donated foods, 1.4% from a relative, and 0.5% purchased, and 0.1% from a neighbor (Figure 2). Government donated foods included white rice, canned tuna, oil, evaporated milk, beans, sugar and oats. Anthropometry Mothers. The subjects were 49 mothers ranging from 16 to 61 years of age with a mean age of 27.2 years 9.0 SD. The anthropometry for the one mother under 18 years of age was excluded from analysis. The mean standing height for the Awajn women was measured to be 148.4 cm 4.7 SD and a range of 139.2 to 163.5 cm. The mean weight for this group is 48.1 kg 5.6 SD, with a range from 37.7 to 61.5 kg. Calculations of BMI for this population estimated a mean of 21.8 kg/m2 1.9 SD. The range for measured BMI was 18.23 to 26.16 kg/m2. Only one woman was below the 18.5kg/m2 measure indicative of mild chronic undernutrition (WHO, 1995). There were three women above the BMI of 25.0 kg/m2

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Children
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Mothers

Purchased, 0.5 Neighbour, 0.1 Relative, 1.4 Donated, 18

Purchased, 0.3 Neighbour, 0.3 Relative, 1.3 Donated, 6.5

Mother, 79.9

Self, 91.3

Figure 2. Division of responsibility of food preparation by percent of food items consumed daily.

suggesting moderate overweight (WHO, 1995). The mean sitting height was 77.5 cm 3.92 SD, with range of 70.4 to 85.6 cm. The Cormic Index (Charbonneau-Roberts et al., 2005) for this group was calculated as sitting height/ standing height, and was 0.53 0.01 SD with range 0.51 to 0.56. The Cormic adjusted standardized BMI (BMIstd) was calculated by adding the difference between the observed BMI (BMIob) from the population estimated BMI (BMIes) to the using the following formula from Collins et al. (2000):

BMIstd = BMI0.52 + ( BMIob BMIes )


Where: BMI0.52 is the BMI at an estimated Sitting Height to Standing Height ratio of 0.52. Using the computation BMI0.52 = 1.19 (52 40.34) = 21.54. The BMIes women is calculated by using the Equation BMIes = 1.19 *Cormic Index*100 40.34. For Awajn women the equation used was BMIes = 1.19 (53) 40.34 and was equal to 22.73. The BMIob is the observed BMI as calculated by measured standing height and weight. Using the Cormic Index adjustment BMI, a mean 20.57 kg/m2 1.83 SD was calculated. The range of values for the adjusted-BMI was 17.04 to 24.97 kg/m2. By implementing the adjusted Cormic Index for this population there were six women with BMI calculations <18.5 kg/m2 and there are no individuals classified as overweight with a BMI >25.0

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kg/m2. However these results are preliminary as the method used for measuring sitting height needs to be validated in a controlled setting. The mean for mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) was 24.83 cm 1.74 SD, with a range of 22.0 to 29.0 cm. There were no women below the MUAC of 22.0 cm below which can be indicative of poor nutritional status (WHO, 1995). There were no cases of individuals being below both BMI and MUAC cut-offs, which has been suggestive of undernutrition (James et al., 1994). The measurement of MUAC was correlated with BMI and found to have a correlation coefficient of 0.663 (p < 0.01). The MUAC was more strongly correlated with the Standardized BMI with a coefficient of 0.729 (p < 0.01). Children. Of the 36 children in total, there were eight children (22%) with height-age z-scores (HAZ) below 2 SDs, six children (17%) below 3 SDs, and three children (8%) under the - 4 SDs of the NCHS standard. Using these criteria the estimated prevalence of stunting was therefore 49 % and severe stunting was 26 % in the population. The HAZ ranged from 4.52 to 0.56, with a mean z-score of 2.18 1.16 SD. The weightfor-height z-scores (WHZ) ranged from 1.24 and 1.71 with a mean 0.00 and a standard deviation of 0.70. Mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) measurements were between 13.2 cm and 17.7 cm with a mean of 15.27 cm 1.00 SD. The MUAC for height Z-scores in children ranges from 2.21 to 1.12 with a mean of 0.97 0.75 SD (CDC, 2004). There was no significant difference between the HAZ, WHZ or MUAC for height Z-Scores of boys and girls. There was a correlation coefficient of 0.619 (p < 0.01) for the relationship between MUAC and WHZ. Among the children in the study there was no evidence of acute malnutrition as determined by wasting with a WHZ of less then 2SDs and/or a MUAC of less than 12.5 cm (James et al., 1994). All HAZ, WHZ, and MUAC-for-height z-scores were calculated using Epi Info Version 3.3 (CDC, 2004).

Childrens Health Information According to mothers, only 1 of the 35 children had been given a vitamin A supplement, but the supplementation for this one child could not be confirmed with health records. It should be noted that Peru does not have a national vitamin A supplementation program (FAO, 2000). Night blindness was not reported as a problem in any children. There was only

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one mother who said she has seen a child resembling keratomalacia from the photos shown of Bitots spots, corneal xerosis, and corneal ulcerations and keratomalacia. Eighty percent of mothers reported that their children had parasites at time of the study, 20% were unsure, and 37% of the children had been given Albendazol (an antihelminthic) in the last month. All of these children were reported by mothers to still have parasites at the time of the interview. Ninety-two percent of children were reported by their mothers to have had parasites between the age of 3 and 5 years, while 73% of mothers reported that children had parasites during the first two years of infancy, 21% said their child did not have parasites during infancy, and 6% were unsure. There were 54% of the children who had ever received medication for parasites or worms. Forty percent of the children had an episode of diarrhea within the previous month, and 35% had an episode of fever, cold, nausea or influenza-like symptoms in the same time period. No relationship was found between reported health and anthropometry.

DISCUSSION TFSs have been essential to sustaining health of Indigenous Peoples. This study aimed to define the Awajn TFS and its nutritional and cultural importance for lower Cenepa communities. Overall, the TFS proved to be vital to the physical and cultural survival of the Awajn, since they consumed only minimal (<1 %) amounts of purchased foods. During the study season, known by the Awajn as the period of restricted fishing and thus greatest scarcity in the food supply (Galdo Pagaraza et al., undated), there was evidence of general seasonal dietary adequacy from analysis of anthropometry and repeat 24 hour dietary recall data. Anthropometry values of weight-for-height as determined by BMI for mothers and WHZ scores among children, suggested no indication of population acute malnutrition. There were no cases of wasting, in comparison with the prevalence of wasting of 2% at the national level in Peru and the highest rate in Peru of 8.2% reported in 1996 in the Amazonas region (FAO, 2000). More recently Peruvian data give the values of wasting of 0.9% for children under 5 years of age at national level, 1.2% rural population of children under 5 y children, and for children 35 years, 0.7% at national level, and 0.7% for Amazonas children under 5 years (DHS, 2001). The MUAC measurements in women as well as the

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MUAC-for-height Z-scores in children suggested a healthy population. This is similar to findings among other groups in the Amazon, as reviewed by Dufour (1992). Weight-for-height from the Curripaco and Yanomani of southern Venezuela the Alto Xingu region of Brazil, and both the Yanomani, and Tukano of the Colombian Amazon, suggested that most children were within normal range of the 80% standard of the Harvard growth standards and the 50th percentile of the NCHS growth curves (Dufour, 1992). Contrasting results to the current study with previous work done in the North Western Amazon, Berlin and Markell (1977) reported high prevalence of thinness among the Awajn, while Behrens (1984) found thinness among the Shipibo. The average weight for height of adults (calculated as a BMI ranged between 22.2 and 25.0 kg/m2) for numerous groups evaluated from Amazonia indicated normal nutritional status. The Awajn were the exception as many of the individuals were estimated to have a BMI of less than 18.5 kg/m2, while 35% of children age 1 to 5 were below the NCHS 80th percentile (Berlin and Markell, 1977). The extremely low HAZ scores among Awajn children (4.52 to 0.56) might cause concern for chronic undernutrition. Stunting is considered to be the result of poor diet and high infection rates during early childhood (Martorell and Habicht, 1986). There is a need to gain a better understanding of the infant feeding practices during the first two years of life of the Awajun, especially complementary feeding to better understand the causes of the stunting. Other non-dietary factors may be involved in shorter stature of Awajn children. Parasitic and helminthe infections in the children were reported by 80% of mothers (20% unsure), with insufficient Abendozol (anthelmintic medication) reported as a health concern by community members and local health workers. Among the Naporuna Amazonian school children in Ecuador, parasitism was reported at 82.0% with Entamoeba coli and Ascaris lumbricoides most prevalent (Quizhpe et al., 2003). Virtually all of the Chivacoa Indigenous People of Venezuela were found to have parasites; however there was no relationship between number of different species of parasites in an individual and nutritional status (Holmes and Clark, 1992). Berlin and Markell (1977) reported high levels of Awajn parasitism including the helminthes hook worm, whip worm as well as protozoa (Ascaris lumbricoides, Entamoeba histoytica as the most prevalent), without nutritional status consequences. The authors attributed this to the high quality of the diet in terms of energy, iron and protein. Previous studies had difficulties

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in obtaining ages for children, so height-for-age comparisons for the Northwestern Amazon were not readily available (Berlin and Markell, 1977). Holmes and Clark (1992) found the short stature of children in the Venezuelan Amazon was a successful adaptation to the environment, and children grew at same rate as the NCHS (1977) reference populations. Consideration should be given to findings that, with the exception of two groups, adults indigenous to the Amazon region have been described as generally healthy, while being on average shorter than the 10th percentile of the NCHS standard (Dufour, 1992). The high energy intakes without overweight among the Awajn women and children in this study may possibly be explained by parasites reported by the mothers. High dietary intakes may be an adaptive mechanism for compensating for the physiological demand of the parasites; however, the impact of parasites and infection on Awajn nutritional status and health needs to be more clearly defined. Hygiene and sanitation practices may need to be addressed in nutrition health promotion activities. As calculated from the repeat 24-hour recalls, the estimated dietary intakes of energy, protein, iron, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin A were above the suggested DRIs, however, the DRIs are intended for healthy populations, and may not be appropriate for this population with reported high parasitism (IOM, 2000a). The only intake which fell below the recommendation was that of calcium for women and children. Dietary calcium may have been underestimated, by food composition tables used for dietary analysis not including the consumption of small fish bones and various animal tissues. Under-reporting and over-reporting have been recognized challenges in nutrition research; however with the exception of the doubly labeled water method for calculating energy intake there is no gold standard for estimating dietary nutrient intake (Westerterp and Goris, 2002). The 24-hour recall should not be discounted as an important tool (Beaton, 1994). In this research, errors for nutrient and energy intake were minimized by: use of local bowls, real food models, standardization of local food weights and portion sizes and community discussions. With the exception of masato, Awajn food preparation methods are quite basic and involve mostly single foods, usually boiled or roasted, making it easy to record all foods consumed. The women were also very connected with the food supply and daily food security in knowing the weights and amounts of food consumed. Awajn women physically selected and carried all the daily cassava, fruits and vegetables harvested from the chacra

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and prepared and served meals. Future areas of research which would enhance the understanding of the TFS would be improved food composition data for foods unique to this region as well as recall data in the dry season. Nevertheless, the results of this study suggest that maintaining the traditional diet and lifestyle is important for Awajn health. Indigenous Peoples in the Brazilian Amazon have experienced the consequences of a nutrition transition with the introduction of modern farming systems and cash cropping which was accompanied by a decrease in traditional activities, increased market dependence and an overall decrease in diet quality (Zorini and Lombardi, 2002). Alto Mayo Awajn communities (composed partly of Awajn migrating from Cenepa) experienced a decrease in dietary quality as a result of mono-cropping of rice and decrease in traditional chacra land use practices (Johnson, 1974). It was calculated that a chacra of 0.25 hectares sustained a family of 10 along the Cenepa river for at least one year (Berlin and Berlin, 1978); however, in 1978 Alto Mayo communities had entered rice cultivation and chacra requirements ranged from 1.0 hectors to 10 hectors of chacra per family (Johnson, 1974). Obesity, a symptom of a nutrition transition was reported among Venezuelan Indigenous Peoples who had undergone acculturation defined by a change of diet and abandonment of heavy exercise involved in gathering food (Holmes and Clark, 1992). The nutrition transition for Indigenous Peoples can be a result of directed changes such as food donation and introduction of foods for purchase as well as non directed changes such as climate change, external pressures on land or decrease in available terrain for hunting, gathering and shifting agriculture (FAO/WHO, 2002). Both impacts need to be addressed in policy and interventions in order to honor the Awajns right to subsistence practices. Intervention activities suitable and acceptable for indigenous areas have recently been reported (Kuhnlein et al., 2006), and include activities ongoing in the Cenepa region.

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CONCLUSIONS Findings from this study describe the TFS of the Awajn, and highlight its nutritional value. Overall anthropometry indicates healthy nutritional status for the lower Cenepa women and children 36 years of age although there is a 49% prevalence of stunting in the children. Dietary intake data appear adequate as shown from the 24-hour recalls. The current

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health and nutrition impact from parasites as well as the possible resulting increased nutrient requirements need further attention. Policies, health promotion activities and ecosystem protection can ensure that subsistence lifestyle and diverse traditional foods are available for the Awajn. This is also the case for Indigenous Peoples globally.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We sincerely thank Sandra Vidal, Melissa Abad, and Miluska Carrasco for their work in data collection. We also thank Alvaro Antumtshi, Ruben Giukam, and Francisco (Pancho) Kantuash Saan for their efforts in translation. ODECOFROC and the dedicated womens group were essential throughout the research, for which we are grateful. We would like to thank Margot Marin of the IIN for her work with the data, and we thank Dr. Mark Plotkin and colleagues affiliated with the Amazon Conservation Team, Washington, DC, for assistance with species identifications. We extend our appreciation to the communities of lower Cenepa, especially the women and children who participated in the study. We also recognize with appreciation the funding contribution of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), Institute of Aboriginal Peoples Health (IAPH), and Institute of Population and Public Health (IPPH).

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